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What is “legal disability” for time limits in personal injury claims?

Another relaxation of the harshness of the Statute of Limitations is that time will be deemed not to run against an injured person during any period in which they are deemed to be under a legal ‘disability.’

One important example of such a legal disability is where someone is under the age of eighteen. The effect of the rule is that a child will have two years from the date of their eighteenth birthday within which to commence proceedings for any injury which they have sustained at any time during the first eighteen years of their life.

Mental impairment and legal disability

Another disability that is recognised by the Statute of Limitations is when one is found to be legally ‘of unsound mind’ which might be rephrased as meaning lacking the fundamental cognitive abilities of your typical adult. Accordingly, any period during which an adult person is in an impaired mental state will not be included when calculating the two-year period.

For example, if an adult of otherwise normal mental ability was caused by the accident in which they were injured to fall into a coma for several years, the two-year period would only start to run from the date when the injured person came out of the coma and regained their normal faculties sufficiently to enable them to assemble and appreciate all of the information required to satisfy the date-of-knowledge test described above.